ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
A BREAKTHROUGH IN GLOBAL DRUG POLICY?
The Encod campaign at the annual session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in March is one of our main projects for 2014. There will be an alternative media center in Vienna, Encod members will plant cannabis plants in front of UNO City and a five person delegation will join the discussion inside the UN buildings. There will also be Coffee Sniffers…
In a lot of ways the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs is the root of all evil, as far as drug prohibition is concerned. The three main UN treaties on drugs (1961, 1971, 1988) severely limit member states to develop drug policies that are not based on repression and criminalization. But the ‘Berlin wall of prohibition’ is starting to show cracks and holes, thanks to courageous countries like Uruguay and Bolivia and courageous American states like Colorado and Washington. Bolivia legalized traditional use of the coca leaf, the other territories mentioned legalized cannabis. Whether the UN liked it or not.
2014 might well be a crucial year, with countries around the world watching Uruguay and the US very closely. Within the US a domino effect is already visible: a whole series of states are planning ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis, for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Debate about the failure of the war on drugs is heating up in almost every European and South American country. The 57th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna next month, in contrast to earlier occasions, promises to become an exciting event, as it will have to respond to these developments. As Encod chairman Janko Belin explains: “The UN CND cannot carry on like it is business as usual. This year is different. The message is clear: we need real change and we need it now.”
Encod prepares various actions in Vienna. Firstly, upon their arrival to the UN centre, the governmental delegates will be welcomed by ‘Kaffeeschnüffler’ (‘Coffee Sniffers’). These sniffers belonged to a group of about 400 disabled veterans from the army, employed by Prussian king Frederick the Great during the second half of the 18th Century. Their job was to enforce the ban on roasted bean coffee, a beverage prohibited by law at the time. They went around sniffing if anyone was roasting or brewing coffee, so he could be arrested and locked up.
The Prussian King was not the first to take this kind of measures: throughout the Middle Ages, coffee had been prohibited by both Muslim, Christian and Jewish authorities, who feared its psychoactive effect. Coffee was seen as a stimulant for rebellious spirits. Fredericks motive was more of an economic nature. As Prussia lacked coffee-producing colonies it had to import the product at high cost. However, also because Frederick himself loved coffee so much he eventually gave up and lifted the ban.
Since just about every delegate will be drinking coffee at the UN, the irony shouldn’t be lost on them. Therefore, Encod members will also plant some cannabis clones in front of the UN Centre, while inside, a five person delegation will participate in the discussions.
The delegation is made up of Chakib El Khayari, human rights activist and spokesperson for the hemp legalisation movement in Morocco, American author Doug Fine (’Hemp Bound’, ’Too High To Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution’), Dionisio Nuñez, Bolivian ex-minister of coca affairs, Encod chairman Janko Belin and Encod coordinator Joep Oomen. On Friday 14 March, one of them will deliver a 3 minutes speech to the plenary meeting on the topic of “Measures to fight Money Laundering and increase internationational judicial cooperation.”
But the aim of Encods presence in Vienna is most of all to inform the world in real time about what exactly is going on inside. Therefore a team of journalists will work around the clock to carry out interviews with delegates and elaborate news reports from the CND meeting. Every night on 13, 14 and 15 March, an alternative media center that has been set up in Vienna will report on the proceedings, produce news reports, interviews and press releases and provide live Twitter coverage.
So watch the Encod website in March and please spread the YouTube videos and other information that will be shown there.
Prohibiting substances and plants that people like to consume is a very bad idea. The great philosopher Spinoza already understood this. About 350 years ago, he wrote:
“All laws which can be violated without doing anyone any injury are laughed at. Nay, so far are they from doing anything to control the desires and passion of man that, on the contrary, they direct and incite men’s thoughts toward those very objects; for we always strive toward what is forbidden and desire the things we are not allowed to have. He who tries to determine everything by law will foment crime rather than lessen it. And men of leisure are never deficient in the ingenuity needed to enable them to outwit laws framed to regulate things which cannot be entirely forbidden.”
By Derrick Bergman